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Mental Health - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Increased Activity Imbalance in Fronto-Subcortical Circuits in Adolescents with Major Depression
Published: Friday, September 16, 2011
Author: Qing Jiao et al.

by Qing Jiao, Jun Ding, Guangming Lu, Linyan Su, Zhiqiang Zhang, Zhengge Wang, Yuan Zhong, Kai Li, Mingzhou Ding, Yijun Liu


A functional discrepancy exists in adolescents between frontal and subcortical regions due to differential regional maturational trajectories. It remains unknown how this functional discrepancy alters and whether the influence from the subcortical to the frontal system plays a primacy role in medication naïve adolescent with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Methodology/Principal Findings

Eighteen MDD and 18 healthy adolescents were enrolled. Depression and anxiety severity was assessed by the Short Mood and Feeling Questionnaire (SMFQ) and Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) respectively. The functional discrepancy was measured by the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) of resting-state functional MRI signal. Correlation analysis was carried out between ALFF values and SMFQ and SCARED scores. Resting brain activity levels measured by ALFF was higher in the frontal cortex than that in the subcortical system involving mainly (para) limbic-striatal regions in both HC and MDD adolescents. The difference of ALFF values between frontal and subcortical systems was increased in MDD adolescents as compared with the controls.


The present study identified an increased imbalance of resting-state brain activity between the frontal cognitive control system and the (para) limbic-striatal emotional processing system in MDD adolescents. The findings may provide insights into the neural correlates of adolescent MDD.